Oguchi Onyewu had a remarkable career at center back, both for the US men’s national team and at the club level.
Look no further than his inclusion at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups as part of a 69-cap, six-goal career. There’s also his lengthy European stay, highlighted by Belgian club Standard Liege, before his final stop in 2017 with the Philadelphia Union.
Onyewu, 38, sees the momentum behind Black Players for Change and wishes his playing days including similar initiatives around social and racial equality.
“I’ve told them so many times how proud I am and just how bold this current generation is,” Onyewu said during the companion show of Wednesday night’s MLS is Back Tournament semifinal, which the Portland Timbers won 2-1.
“I’m almost jealous that my generation or the generation prior didn’t have the courage enough to do exactly what they’re doing and make the steps that they’re taking. I’m happy for them, I’m proud of them and it’s well overdue. I think a lot of positive change is going to come out of it, definitely in the soccer landscape in this country.”
Onyewu was asked about what’s sparked this movement now versus when he was forging his path overseas or domestically.
He turned to the overall environment and social moment, revealing he debated kneeling during the national anthem while donning a Union jersey. Onyewu decided against it, fearful of repercussions he felt would resemble a “blacklisted” Colin Kaepernick.
“I was like 'I don’t know what the league will do, I don’t know what Philly would do,' so I just didn’t do it,” Onyewu said. “Things have been happening in our country for far too long and these players are like you know what, there’s strength in numbers. So they’re unified and they’re organized, and right now I’m so happy that it’s almost like better late than never. What they’re doing now has been well overdue and I’m proud of it. I only wish that it would’ve happened earlier."
For more from Onyewu, check out the entire clip above.